So you’ve decided to make home improvements and enhance the look and functionality of your outdoor living space? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Now that summer has officially arrived, you’re probably excited to host family get-togethers and entertain guests in your patio or backyard. But with so many outdoor options available for homeowners - from gazebos, to freestanding pergolas, solariums, awnings and more - how do you decide which one is better suited for your home and lifestyle?
If you’re looking to have permanent built structures installed, solariums (a.k.a sun rooms) and retractable awnings are two popular and affordable options among homeowners. But like everything else in home design, determining what you intend to use your outdoor space for will be crucial in helping you decide between these two options.
PROS: the bright side of 3-season solariums
A popular option among homeowners, a solarium is a complete outdoor patio enclosure typically attached to your home and designed to function as an additional indoor-outdoor living space. It is a good solution to enjoy the outdoor view while experiencing the comfort of being inside and is ideal for homes located in warmer and milder climates and requires low maintenance.
Sunny and bright
Because of their large glass windows and glassed roof, 3-season solariums bring in lots of sunlight and capture the warmth of the sun, allowing you to use natural lighting, enjoy the beautiful surrounding landscape during the spring, fall, and summer seasons.
Full outdoor protection
Sun rooms will let you enjoy the wonders of nature with an added benefit: they will completely shield you from rain, wind, and unwanted insects like bugs, wasps, mosquitoes and other biting insects so you can enjoy summer days to the fullest.
More affordable than conventional renovations
Although more pricey than outdoor awnings, 3-season solariums still remain an affordable and hassle-free way of adding leisure living space and extra square footage that extends into nature and connects you to the outdoors.
Unlike other rooms in your home, a solarium can be used for pretty much anything; You can turn it a craft room, a reading or painting room, a greenhouse, or simply a lounging area. It’s like having an additional room added to your home space!
CONS: the not-so-practical side of solariums
Lack of privacy
Sunrooms are open and bright, but they are not the best options for creating private spaces. If you’re looking to have a more intimate get-together or privacy, solariums may not be the best option. Their open, see-through design, although great for letting in sunlight and providing a scenic backdrop, allow neighbors or passersby to look in easily. You may be required you to add drapes, blinds or other window coverings to add more privacy.
Windows are the most porous part of your home when it comes to heating and cooling. In more extreme climates, that can significantly increase your energy costs. 3-season solariums may increase your energy usage because they are made with single pane glass and are not very well insulated. During the summer, a solarium can trap heat inside to keep the temperature warmer during the day. When it’s very hot outside, your 3-season solarium can actually feel like a hothouse. You may require the use of a ceiling fan to keep the solarium from overheating.
Moreover, sun rooms built for three-seasons don’t provide any auxiliary heat source, which means you would have to add heaters to keep your solarium warm on cooler days, which can dramatically increase your energy bills.
Although its installation is sturdy and permanent, and no annual assembly or disassembly is required, a solarium can make you feel confined and cramped in one space, especially if it is built around a small square footage. Because it offers a complete coverage from ceiling to floor, it doesn’t provide much breathing room or let air circulate freely, and you won’t be able to enjoy an open-air setting.
PROS: the practical side of outdoor awnings
Offer a plein-air feel
Both functional and decorative, awnings will make your patio feel like a plein-air extension of your home and provide an alfresco experience while protecting you from the glaring sun, wind, bugs and extreme weather conditions thanks to its waterproof and UV-protecting canvases. Fixed retractable awnings are great addition to any outdoor living space because they allow you to take full advantage of summer days you’ve been longing for without confining you in an enclosed room, so you can breathe in fresh air and enjoy all the perks of being outside while staying protected.
Bug, UV and full weather protection
Fixed retractable awnings offer well-rounded protection against unfavorable weather conditions, UV rays and insects. They come equipped with optional detachable mesh side curtains and mosquito nets that you can add and remove easily, and a 100% waterproof and quality vinyl or acrylic canvas that protects against 98% of UV rays. In addition, their sturdy aluminum structure will protect against harsh winds, and side curtains can be placed on each side to offer full weather protection.
Versatile and functional
Retractable awnings can be used to enhance the look of any type of terrace or patio. Mountable on any wall structure, retractable awnings’ free-standing and hassle-free structure eliminates the need for seasonal storage. Most retractable awnings will let you enjoy the outdoor year-round thanks to their unique operating functions.
Unlike solariums, outdoor retractable awnings will give you the option of adjusting the amount of shade, light, coverage and privacy you desire with a motorized control or manual crank, giving you full control to create the perfect outdoor ambiance.
In addition, retractable awnings come in a wide variety of acrylic cloth fabrics and colors, four-sided drapes and mosquito nets so you can shelter your patio in style and personalize the look of your outdoor space.
Fixed retractable awnings can be deployed all the way down to the ground to keep your patio fully protected and provide a more secluded, private space, or allow to segment or shade a specific space, while leaving the other area in open-air.
Low cost and energy saving
Another added benefit is that your retractable awning will help keep your home cooler during the summer by preventing the heat and UV rays from penetrating and overheating your indoor space. Consequently, your energy consumption will be reduced because you won’t have to turn on your air conditioner day to keep your home temperature cool.
You can even add a patio heater for awning to prolong the summer season and enjoy a nice autumn weather. It is energy-efficient and can be used outside or inside for convenience.
Finally, the retractable awning is much more affordable than the solarium in terms of overall costs.
A retractable awning is an indisputable option for a hassle-free, weatherproof solution year-round. Adjustable with a motorized control or manual crank, you can simply retract it whenever it’s not in use or when bad weather sets in. Plus, you will never have to worry about seasonal maintenance or storage: the structure stays in place all year long the roof can automatically retract under a sturdy aluminum cover hood.
Any type of addition unto your home is a big decision that deserves careful consideration. Although solariums have the benefit of adding extra indoor square footage with an outdoor feel, outdoor retractable awnings have the added benefits of customization, versatility, flexibility, energy and cost efficiency as well as the wonderful open-air setting that a 3-season solarium can’t fully provide.